Last March 13, 84-year-old Pearl Boutcher fell at the Clarenville Shopping Centre parking lot after her walker fell in a rut. Almost one year later, the parking lot is still a hazard for seniors and the general public.
“I just got out of the van and went down in a rut and down I went and the walker too,” Boutcher told The Packet recently. “I never got a smack in my life so hard.”
Boutcher says she avoids the parking lot now because the condition is no better than it was when she fell, causing bruising and a cut on her face that needed seven stitches to close. At the time Boutcher’s son David threatened to sue the town if it didn’t do anything about the lot.
Town workers filled in potholes with concrete later that day, but since then the cracks have reappeared.
Boutcher says she can see the same thing happening to someone else.
“There are a lot of seniors that go down there,” she says. “It’s an awful mess. It could happen to anyone and they don’t have to be old.”
Deanna Burns lives in Shoal Harbour and says this is the worst she’s seen the lot. She complained to The Packet a year ago about the lot’s condition and is frustrated the town and shopping centre business owners have made no progress getting it resurfaced.
“There’s been nothing done,” she says. “Not a thing. It hasn’t moved forward at all. It’s still stuck at this crossroads of who is responsible for it.”
On Feb. 20 The Packet reported that Morley Goodyear, the manager of Co-op grocery store, one of the businesses in the shopping centre, wants the town to resurface the lot and bill the individual businesses, including the Co-op.
Burns says Goodyear should be commended for his stance. She says more business owners should follow his example, and the town has a role to play getting all groups together.
“I think they do have a responsibility, if not to repair it then to ensure it gets repaired,” she says. “If they don’t think they’re responsibility is to foot the full bill, the town should be making sure someone takes responsibility for it.”
The Packet also reported last month that the Town of Gander also owned parking lots used by private business and they were in poor shape. It solved the problem five years ago by going ahead with the work and billing businesses, whether they agreed with it or not. Gary Brown, director of finance for Gander, says some businesses challenged the town’s right to charge them for the paving and the case is currently before a Provincial Supreme Court judge.
Brown says about 70 per cent of businesses paid, some upfront, others through financing. The cost of paving the five lots was $450,000.
Brown says it can be challenging getting everyone to agree to contribute to the paving when there are businesses of different sizes and some are more able to pay than others.
A request for interviews with Mayor Frazer Russell and Heber Smith, chair of finance for Clarenville, weren’t returned as of deadline.
Boutcher says one year is long enough for two sides to figure out how to pave a parking lot.
“There’s nothing good to say about anything like that. You don’t have to be old to fall,” she says.
“It was just absolutely horrible,” Boutcher says about her accident. “I went to a doctor’s appointment and ended up in the hospital.”
For last year's article on Boutcher's fall, CLiCK HERE